Better Call Saul star Rhea Seehorn on those Kim-Jimmy scenes — and Kim's final fate — in the series finale
In the penultimate episode, she confessed her crimes to the Albuquerque DA — and to Howard's wife Cheryl (save for that one tiny detail about her knowing that Jimmy was alive and in hiding). And then in the series finale of the Breaking Bad prequel on Monday, Kim continued her journey of contrition, of betterment, and of healing, with Jimmy McGill/Saul Goodman/Gene Takovic (Bob Odenkirk) surprising her on the path.
The gifted lawyer who felt she was no longer worthy of the law had signed up to volunteer at a legal clinic answering phones. One phone call that she picked up involved a legal issue, but it was her own: She was tipped off that that Gene had been caught, and was going to implicate her in his crimes for a lesser sentence than he had already negotiated down. Kim flew in for the trial, bracing for the betrayal, but what came next was the opposite: He accepted responsibility not just for his crimes in association with Walter White (Bryan Cranston), but for his role in Chuck's (Michael McKean) demise. He was becoming the person he wanted to be and that she wanted him to be — and at great cost to him. (An extra 79 years on his sentence.) Their story ended as it began, leaning up against a wall (granted, a prison wall), sharing a cigarette (did you notice the touch of color?), speaking very few words, but saying so much to each other. What happened was not okay, but they were okay.
And now, a guard will bring into the room… the (finally) Emmy-nominated Rhea Seehorn, who offers her thoughtful take on the show's final chapter, the beautiful-yet-bittersweet Jimmy-Kim reunion, what might be next for these characters, and saying goodbye (forever?) to Kim Wexler.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Justice was served. Humanity was found, but maybe not in exactly the way people were expecting. What were your first thoughts when you read that finale script?
RHEA SEEHORN: I found it incredibly moving. I had no idea exactly how they were going to end it. I think that it was, to me, perfect. To have it be a much more profound moral and philosophical question put to people than to go out in a blaze of gunfire. I just think it was more honoring of what our show ended up being about.
What was the question you pondered the most?
When [co-creators] Peter [Gould] and Vince [Gilligan], seasons and seasons ago, were asked, "How will you wrap this up?" They said, "We are trying to ask ourselves, what does a character like Jimmy McGill deserve? And deserve being triple underlined. Does he deserve any happiness in life? Does he deserve love? Does he deserve any redemption?" And they wanted to be honest about the crimes that he was a part of, and aiding and abetting in Breaking Bad. It's very easy because of the beautiful Arthur Miller-like character that Bob made that we ended up loving so much to forget some of the hideous things that he was a part of, um, in Breaking Bad. And then later they started asking themselves, "What does the character like Kim Wexler deserve? Her Florida life is perfectly fine, but there's nothing there that she's passionate about." And the tragedy of seeing Jimmy and Kim in the places they're in right now, because we've seen what they could be. We are aware of each of their potential. So I'm still pondering the question of, "Does the story end there or do they deserve a little more? And will they get a little more?" And because I'm a hopeless romantic [laughs], I think it gets a little bit brighter. Not a lot, but a little bit brighter after this day.
The courtroom scene is another gift for fans into the facial decoding of Kim. What kind of journey does she go on while just sitting there, thinking the worst of Jimmy, that he was turning on her, to then seeing some change in Jimmy, and then the best of Jimmy, even though the whole thing is a tragedy and he'll spend so much time in jail?
It's very complex. And the journey, the biggest one, is she's there enraged and also deeply hurt. When she decided to come clean after years, years, and years of just walking around with a hairshirt of her own baking and is ready to face the music on everything, there's one lie she won't give up, and that's if Saul is alive. She says, "If he is in fact alive." She never lets the feds tap her phone. She never says, "I heard from him." I think, because of true love, she will not participate in making his life worse. And telling him to turn himself in she truly thinks is to help him make his life better. Not just in some religious salvation way. Yeah, it is to unburden your soul. But it's also like, "How is your life going to end? Eventually someone's going to find you and shoot you. What is that life going to be?" At first she's there thinking, "I cannot believe you'd go so far as to implicate me in things I didn't do, and that's the hatred you feel for me." So there's a relief to find out that's not what this is about. Then there's trying to figure out what it is: "Oh, it's a ruse to get me here."
Also, she's seeing him in his full Saul glory. I mean, she saw him in his office, but seeing him [for the first time] since he's been in hiding is weird. And then going through the process of realizing he had got his sentence down to seven years — which is such a brilliant thing that they showed you one last time that he actually is a great lawyer. Just that one more notion of, "By the way, both of these people had tremendous potential." They could have been great. And what does she think of that? It's impressive, but that's not exactly coming clean. Then he comes clean — and then even takes it past that to own up to, and finally confess to, and she's bearing witness to him, owning the grief of not just Chuck's death, but Chuck's treatment of him and that relationship and his upbringing and a lifetime of being told that you're less than. Which she has heard versions of before, when he was trying to get reinstated at the bar and basically was mocked for thinking it was sincere.
So I think she's a little trepidatious [laughs] for a second: "Uhhh, is this one real?" But I do think the way Bob played it beautifully, she realizes this is all true. And then that final moment of seeing and realizing, "His owning this is going to be a horrible sentence." She's smart enough to know, "Oh, this sentence is going to be very hefty." I don't think she saw 86 years coming, but I think she knows: "You just closed your jail cell for a long time by doing this." I think there's a lot of love and a lot of pain, but also a lot of empathy and compassion for like, "I'm glad you made the decision and I'm glad you made it on your own." Kim did not make him make this decision — as has been true of these two for a long time. She gives him his own agency, just as much as she insists that people give her hers. Some of her biggest fights and some of her biggest rebellions were when she felt like people were telling her what's good for her and what's not good for her, what she's capable of, and what she's not capable of, who she is and who she isn't. And unfortunately, she behaved pretty petulantly there towards the end. [Laughs] She's like, "If I want my own agency, then he has to find whatever his truth is himself."
I know it'll be open to interpretation. People will think that she was incriminating him when she went to the law. But I don't. She never said, "And by the way, he went and got cartel money." She kept it to the things that she even says to Hamlin's widow are probably not prosecutable — if that's a word — because there's no body and there's no evidence. And everybody that was involved is dead. For my money, I think they set it up that her not saying that Saul is alive is an indication that she kept it to her side of the street. She did say that both she and Jimmy were involved with trying to take Howard down, but in no more legal ramifications than she set upon herself.
It seems like Kim is finally moving past punishment and moving toward reparation doing what she loves to do, helping those in need. She's volunteering at the legal clinic. She may not think she deserves to be a lawyer yet, but she can start by answering phones. How do you assess where she is on her journey? And how long before she's running that clinic?
It remains to be seen. I honestly think that that's one of the beautiful things about this finale. Peter wanted people to continue to think about the next day and the next year for these characters. What does it mean to you about the way you look at people who are trying to redeem themselves and people that want a second chance? They're very large, messy questions.
I would like to think that she has begun to see at least a little bit that, "I've come clean to the people back in Albuquerque." I'm not sure Glen and everybody in Florida knows everything that she did [laughs], but I think she's thinking two things: One, that it's possible that I can allow myself to find some joy and passion in my life again. And two, that it's possible that I can atone for my actions in an active way, instead of just a passive way, of like, "I'm not allowed to have anything." That is possible that I could actually give back. And I think that Kim will probably struggle mightily with what is true altruism: Is this for me versus am I actually helping people? I think she'll struggle with that question for a long time.
This is not at all the ending that's written into the script, but because I'm a hopeless romantic, I think that she also will apply that to how she handles her relationship with Jimmy. I think she's going to go through a very complicated process of trying to figure out if she can help decrease his sentence in a way that is still just. And I don't think that's the last time they'll see each other. Not by a long shot. But that's me. I think there's other people that will think, "That's the last day, that's it." But I don't.
Given that this is partly a legal drama, I was going to ask: In the end, what is the final verdict on Jimmy and Kim? How much love is still there? And it sounds like the answer is probably a fair amount.
I think so. Bob would have to give his side of it. I personally think she still loves him. Reconciling that with the actions that she must at least be aware of indirectly by reading newspaper articles of what Walter White was involved with and that he was considered aiding and abetting these people — I don't know what she does with that. Does that make it impossible to romantically be in love with the person? Those are larger questions that will take years for her to unravel, but I definitely think that she loves him. And I don't just mean as a friend. I think that she still deeply loves him.
Jimmy and Kim sharing that cigarette in the interrogation room is a nice wink back to the parking garage scene in the pilot. The dialogue is minimal. The emotions are maximum. There's so much there, unspoken. It's bittersweet, but they see each other now for who they really are. And if he wanted her to be proud of him, at least he made some inroads in that courtroom. What was being said in the silence?
There's what's on the page and what we work on and do [our] own homework, and then there's arriving to set and being completely open to that the scene is about to change, because there's another human here who also brought all of his knowledge of his character and what he thinks is going on and responding to that. And as soon as we started rehearsing it, I was very affected by this dynamic where it felt like Jimmy was trying to make sure Kim was okay, with how worried she is for him, how scared she is for him, how sad she is for him, how hard it's to see him there, how hard it is to leave him there. Even with him helping her light the cigarette, he's trying to tell her that he's okay now. And I found that just so touching.
How emotional was that scene to film, knowing that it was the very last one that you and Bob would shoot together?
It's very emotional… I did a lot of work before getting there, because I knew I'd have a lump in my throat as soon as I walked onto that soundstage for the last time. And I seldom stay in character between takes. But in this instance I did, because I knew that trying to suppress getting too emotional was absolutely appropriate for the scene. Absolutely appropriate. She can't let Jimmy see how scared and worried she is. It's going to bubble up and he sees it. Bob, as Jimmy could see it, and became very caretaking in the moment. But she can't cry there. It's the wrong thing to do. And to fall apart in that scene would be the wrong thing to do as Kim. Kim would think it was the wrong thing to do. So that was something that I could carry in there, is to understand that it is all right to have those emotions, and to be playing that I don't want them to come up right now.
In the last scene of the finale, there's so much distance between them, and two security fences. He shoots her the finger guns, which carry significant weight on the show. What strikes you about that being the final image, her walking away and looking back at him? Did those finger guns signal their everlasting connection and/or "What a ride it was"?
Well, we shot a couple of different iterations —- including ones where she shoots finger guns back at him. It was very small and not animated or with a smile, but still — in the end, Peter decided that it looked too much like they were saying, "Kim is back in the game," and we really didn't want to give that impression. That moment between them, to me, is much more about the acknowledgement of their bond, that is still there, and the part of their relationship that was true.
It's very purposely left to interpretation of exactly like you said. Is this him just saying, "Man, we had a great run and it's okay"? Or is it him saying we're still great together. And we could still do something together. We could still legally do something together. [Laughs] I took it to mean that he was saying, "I still believe that we have a relationship." In whatever capacity that is. Even though the finger guns are representative of the beginning of this horrible downfall scam with Hamlin, for me, in the moment — because he does it in a very different way — it felt like, "There is still something great about us. Not everything about what we were together is bad. There's something great about the two of us together." And I took her look to him to be an acknowledgement that it's true, even though she's not ready to say what that means.
There's still a connection, however ill-defined. They'll need to find it.
How difficult has it been to bid farewell to this show?
Really hard, but I think it's going to be harder after seeing the finale. Because while it's still airing, it doesn't feel over. And Bob even said, and I agree, it might not actually feel over for a couple of months because we're used to the show airing and talking about it. And then in a couple months we pack up our U-Haul and go to Albuquerque. [Laughs] But because of the very final type of nature of those last scenes, I think it will feel like the end of their story. At least the end of their story on camera. And I think that's going to be hard. I'm super grateful that these guys are forced to all hang out with me for months and months and months, because we will be doing the Emmy awards campaign for [episodes] 7 to 13 next year.
But yeah, understanding that this tale is over — I loved the Kim Wexler character so much, and I also loved the Jimmy McGill character so much, and I loved their relationship so much. I loved how we went about working on it. And I loved these scripts and I loved watching all of my fellow scene partners work, just people at the top of their game, just these brilliant scripts that are beautiful to read. It was a really magical experience to watch people bring these things to life. And I'll miss that.
The last question is a simple one. When can you start on the Kim spin-off?
If they want to do one, I will do it! As far as I know, they have said that they want to take a break from this universe for a while. But yeah, if we get to do it, I hope it's not, like, 80-year-old Kim. I'd like to do it while I'm still a little spry — but I'll do it whenever they want to.
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